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Applications to the Sovereign Tech Fund

The Sovereign Tech Fund invests in the development, improvement, and maintenance of open digital base technologies worldwide. Applications can be submitted on an ongoing basis.

Unfortunately, we cannot provide prior advice on whether a project generally falls under our objectives. If you would like to apply for support for a project, please first check thoroughly whether all the criteria listed below apply.

Formal criteria

Submission via platform: submissions must be completed through the online platform. No supplemental materials should be sent via email or any other form of communication at this time.

Completeness: applications must be completed in German or English. The questions must be answered to a degree that allows us to assess and evaluate the applications.

Proposed activities: the activities listed in the application must be related to developing or maintaining open digital base technologies. Development is our primary focus, although security audits, conference attendance, and other community-based events can be included in the application should they be necessary.

Estimated costs: The application must exceed €150,000 (current funding minimum).

Prohibition of duplicate funding: Funding by the Sovereign Tech Fund is prohibited if other public entities are already paying or have paid for grants or investments for the identical activities.

FOSS: all code and documentation to be supported must be licensed such that it may be freely reusable, changeable, and redistributable. OSI-approved or FSF Free/Libre licenses are acceptable for code. Creative-Commons-like licenses for documentation may not include non-commercial or no derivative clauses.

Selection criteria

The Sovereign Tech Fund invests in open digital base technologies that are vital to the development of other software or enable digital networking. We invest in projects that benefit and strengthen the open source ecosystem. Examples include libraries for programming languages, package managers, open implementations of communication protocols, administration tools for developers, digital encryption technologies, and more. We do not finance the development of prototypes. Our currently funded projects show the range and type of technologies that characterize open digital base technologies.

We are currently not looking for user-facing applications, such as messaging apps or file storage services. If this changes, we will announce it here.

We only support technologies with societal relevance, i.e., technologies from which a broad public benefits or on which particularly vulnerable groups depend. The public interest in these technologies is not measured solely by the number of users, but also by their criticality in particularly important areas of society. The goal of funding is the self-determined use of digital technologies, as well as security, stability and (technological) diversity.

To receive funding from the Sovereign Tech Fund, technologies must be under-supplied or threatened by other circumstances, acute or long-term, such as market consolidation or severe dependencies. The lack of support and resources or technical alternatives places the technologies in a vulnerable state that threatens the existence and sustainability of the project. Applicants must clearly state the extent to which there is underuse or overuse. We understand that these can have different manifestations and causes.

Evaluation Criteria

The above criteria determine whether an application is eligible for support. Applications that generally meet the formal and selection criteria are evaluated for along the questions asked in the application form.

The two factors most important for our evaluation and discussion are the relevance and undersupply of a project, as described above. Both factors are examined in depth during the evaluation. It is both the prevalence of a technology and the sector in which it is applied that are considered when we evaluate the relevance. We consider technologies whose longevity or safety is at risk to be vulnerable. Risk factors here include a lack of financial support, for example, but also a lack of personnel or a lack of governance structures. As mentioned, the reasons for these risk factors can vary.

Furthermore, we look at how well the planning for the project is laid out. Are the activities well-structured, appropriate and feasible? Another criterion is the people or team behind the project – does the application state clearly that the teams or organizations proposed here are suitable to implement the activities requested? Is there a community behind the technology?

The evaluation is generally guided by our strategy and mission. That is, from start to finish, we look at how the project fits into the mission of the Sovereign Tech Fund and contributes to the goal of sustainably strengthening the open source ecosystem in the public interest.

→ To the application platform

Create an account to submit an application. Please note that you will only receive a submission confirmation from us if you agreed to receive emails or SMS from us when you registered. If you change this in the settings after your registration, it will only affect future messages from us, such as acceptances or rejections.

A template of the application form can be downloaded here.

What happens after the application?

Incoming applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis and checked for compliance with our selection criteria and current funding options. Once we have received your application, we will send you a confirmation. It can take up to eight weeks for us to get back to you with a decision. If we are not able to provide funding for your project, you will receive a response notifying you that your application has been declined. If we are able to offer funding, our program team will reach out to discuss the details.

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